REDA Earns First Canadian Prep Championship!
Gold Medal Game
TORONTO, ON–It took two days and 14 games to get to this point but the championship game pitted the NPSAA’s top two teams against each other to decide prep school supremacy at the inaugural Nation Prep School Championship.
After falling in the first two meetings, the third try was the charm for REDA taking the 96-81 victory over YAAACE.
Shooting the ball efficiently REDA pulled away in the fourth quarter, outscoring YAAACE 34-26. It was just the culmination of a game long struggle to try and avert the inside scoring of YAAACE and capitalize on its opportunities as they came.
“Our guys came to battle, at the end of the day I think our defence is what won it for us because we work on our defence a lot,” said Tarry Upshaw, REDA head coach. “Our rotations are tight and our kids they’re warriors, we’re 12 deep and every day in practice we get after it. It’s a war in practice just like it’s a war during the games.”
Leading the way was tournament MVP Grant Mullins who finished with a game-high 24 points.
“In my opinion he’s the best point guard in the class of 2012…he’s just a tremendous basketball player,” added Upshaw.
The large margin seemed to deflate YAAACE, as the strings began to unravel with frustration starting to boil over and teammates appearing to be squabble instead of fighting through to the next possession.
It was a result unforeseen after a relatively close first half.
The first quarter saw both teams trading baskets, with YAAACE taking a slight edge after one, 18-15. A response from REDA came in the form of shooting from Grant Mullins and slashing from Brian Rouse, to climb back and take the lead heading into the half 43-38.
Also aiding the cause was REDA’s fast break changing the complexion of the half by getting early offence, while YAAACE struggled to score as they failed to establish the post-game to take advantage of their size on the inside.
Semi-final 1 YAAACE vs. PHASE 1
Bronze Medal Game – Grass Roots Academy vs. PHASE 1 Academy
It was a battle of the pool leaders, in a game neither wanted to play in.
After round-robin play Grass Roots and PHASE 1 stood atop their respective pools but were knocked off in the semi-finals and resorted to the consolation final that Grass Roots fought back to take in a 99-90 decision.
Trailing for most of the first three quarters, Grass Roots mounted a furious comeback in the final 10 minutes to pull away from a battling PHASE 1 side, behind Nik Stakaus’ team-high 27 points.
Looking deflated from its previous loss, Grass Roots came out the gate flat as the defensive intensity was certainly lacking. PHASE 1 capitalized early trying to redeem itself after an embarrassing showing in their semi-final and took a six point lead into the break, 53-47.
For a contest that resembled a pickup game for much of the evening both teams traded baskets until it came to winning time and Grass Roots clamped down to hold PHASE 1 to 13 points in the final quarter.
Leading all scorers was Johneil Simpson whose strong play throughout the tournament was a refreshing bright spot for the young PHASE 1 squad, finishing with 31 points.
TORONTO, ON–Cinderella Story of the tournament came to a screeching halt as YAAACE shot its way into the finals, convincingly knocking off PHASE 1 85-59
From the end of the first quarter YAAACE held a double-digit advantage and never let it slip, outscoring PHASE 1 in every quarter except the fourth when the game was well out of reach.
Trailing for the first eight minutes it took just one player to get YAAACE back in the game.
Raheem Isaac had kept YAAACE on the board to start as he had four-of-five points but he closed the quarter hitting an astonishing five straight 3-pointers to give YAAACE a 22-12 at the end of one. Isaac scored all but three of YAAACE’s baskets and assisted on the only other field goal in the quarter, he finished with a game-high 24 points, all coming in the first half.
“Raheem he has it in him, sometimes he brings it sometimes he doesn’t, but he brought it today,” said Devon Thompson, head coach of YAAACE.
Despite the lopsided result, it looked like PHASE 1 would be able to carry its strong play from the first two days of the tournament jumping out to a 10-5 lead.
But the torrid run seemed to deflate PHASE 1’s spirits and the momentum clearly shifted in YAAACE’s favour as shots started to fall for others. What it really sparked was YAAACE’s defence, who forced two eight-second violations with their full court press, holding PHASE 1 to only 10 points in the second quarter.
“We talked about it yesterday that these guys got to bring up the intensity on defence, which they did. Raheem really sparked them with his energy closing out the first quarter, I’m just glad they got it together today,” said Thompson.
Fortunes didn’t change in the second half, as the outside shooting of YAAACE combined with its smothering D took PHASE 1 completely out of the game. Through the first three quarters YAAACE had connected on 13 shots from beyond the arc, helping from deep was Kamar McKnight who had six 3-pointers, leading to 21 points.
YAAACE now awaits the winner from the second semi-final and is knows exactly what it needs in order to be crowned the National Prep School Champions.
“We got to bring the same defensive energy, the energy we had in the second quarter we need to bring for the whole 40 minutes of the game regardless of who we’re playing,” added Thompson. “Both teams are good teams, they have their strengths and their weaknesses, we just got to bring the intensity and keep it going.”
Semi-final 2 REDA vs. Grass Roots Academy
In a game that was as evenly matched as it gets, the final minute decided who would move onto the gold medal game.
Off of a pair of free throws with no time remaining, REDA took the 96-95 decision over Grass Roots.
However, the W wasn’t earned without any controversy.
The deciding points were awarded to Grant Mullins, who finished with a team-high 27 points, as Grass Roots was called for a foul on his leaning 3-point attempt as time expired. It was not a popular call with the Grass Roots contingent, who had 10 less fouls called against them, but it was a situation that could have been avoided entirely.
After Nik Staukas gave Grass Roots a one point edge with 11 seconds remaining, REDA desperately looked for a game winning shot only to turn the ball over with 1.9 seconds to play. Needing only to run some time to secure the win, Grass Roots inexplicably threw the ball out of bounds on the inbound and gave REDA its last chance.
“It’s tough when there’s that much speed that much talent on the floor for two guys to be able to do it, if there were a third guy maybe that would have helped,” said Tarry Upshaw, REDA head coach. “I wouldn’t want to be those guys so I’m not saying anything negative.”
It was a furious finish that culminated a competitive fourth quarter that saw both teams go on runs before the closing minute.
The game began with both teams trading baskets as it looked like it was going to be an old fashioned shootout—that’s when REDA decided to step on the gas.
Behind its relentless plan to push the ball at every opportunity, REDA jumped out to an early advantage and never let up. The early going was highlighted by Brian Rouse’s emphatic slam dunk giving him nine points in the quarter leading REDA to the 31-19 advantage after one.
Facing a runaway train Grass Roots responded with an immovable object.
Behind 19 first half points from Rohan Boney who finished with a game-high 31, Grass Roots was able to cut into the lead and get within striking distance. A large part of their success was their ability to slow down REDA’s relentless pace and make it a half-court game, which REDA struggled to adjust to.
With momentum slowly shifting in Grass Roots favour, in the third quarter the tides would change.
Within the first minute of the second half Grass Roots got two quick baskets to tie the game and would continue to attack the rim, keeping the pressure on REDA. It wasn’t long after Grass Roots would take its first lead since the early in the first quarter and built on the widening the gap.
Leading the charge was Staukas who poured in eight points in the quarter to help Grass Roots build a lead as nine. If not for a 5-0 run by REDA to close out the quarter it would have been a much tougher margin to deal with in the final 10 minutes, 72-68 after the third.
“I knew going into the game it was going to be a full game, it wasn’t going to be a win by 20 where we’re coasting but we’re used to that, that’s what we try to do every single time out,” said Upshaw.
The win takes REDA into the final to face YAAACE in a battle of the top teams in the NPSAA. In two games this season, YAAACE has come out on top and REDA will be hoping the third times the charm.
“One step away from our goal, we’re still not there fully, we need another 40 minutes of hard work to get where we want to be. Getting to the final wasn’t our end goal, we want to win the final,” added Upshaw.